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A number of groups sprung up on Facebook in support of Chris Avenir, unsurprisingly.  (Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech)
School decides not to take away student's freedom to obtain a college education

Early this month news broke of a wild expulsion hearing at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.  While students normally are expelled for indiscreetly copying their friends solutions during an exam, plagiarizing others work, or other such gaffs the Ryerson student, Chris Avenir a first year chemical engineering student, was just trying to engage in what he thought was a beneficial and harmless student practice -- creating a study group.

Avenir created a group on Facebook known as "Dungeons/Mastering Chemistry Solutions," named after the study room nicknamed "The Dungeon."  The group allowed students to share advice on homework questions, exchange questions from past tests, and speculate on what might be asked on upcoming tests.  At its maximum, the group helped 147 students.

Soon, however, Avenir's chemistry professor caught onto Avenir's efforts to help his fellow students and they weren't happy.  They not only changed Avenir's grade from a B to an F, but also recommended him for expulsion, putting him up on 147 counts of academic misconduct.

Fortunately, justice prevailed and Ryerson's academic conduct committee ruled last Tuesday not to expel Avenir.  They informed the 18-year-old that while he would not be expelled, he would receive a zero failing grade on the assignment portion of the class, as per the professor's discretion.  The assignment portion was worth ten percent of the total grade, but Avenir still passed the class easily.

Avenir could not be reached for comment, but may decide to appeal the decision as per the school's rules if he feels the failing assignment grade was unfair.  Overnight, Avenir became a celebrity and a poster child for the debate over the legitimacy of online study groups.  Advocates say there is no difference between online groups and school-sponsored tutoring programs, which often have old copies of tests, and will assist students in solving homework problems.  Critics state that helping students access materials not given by the professor or solve problems is cheating, plain and simple.

Avenir's advocates still aren't satisfied with the ruling, but appreciate that it marks a victory for their views.  Says Nora Loreto, president of the Ryerson Students' Union, "Chris in our view is still innocent, so it is still too bad that he got zero for that 10 percent.  But considering we were facing expulsion I think this is a victory, certainly a broader victory for the students at Ryerson."

As per the ruling part of Avenir's punishment includes mandatory attendance in a academic misconduct workshop.

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RE: Cheating?
By mindless1 on 3/23/2008 7:58:28 PM , Rating: -1
They you shouldn't be in engineering as you either don't have the aptitude for it, or aren't willing to make the effort.

When you're learning something it's you versus the next guy, if you can't get it right when the next guy can, guess what? You should FAIL. That's the whole point, you aren't as good and shouldn't receive a degree that implies you are.

Sorry if reality hurts, maybe you'd be better at some other career.

The point is not shunning help, it's that you need it. If you can't do the work (without help) you shouldn't get the grade. That is the point of grades to distinguish the difference. You're trying to cheat your way through life.

An engineer on a team is supposed to be someone who was competent enough to get the degree and be hired for the job, not just someone who needs others help to do the basic things they're supposed to be able to.

It's not about shunning teamwork, it's about individual assessment of skills, your future employer is not hiring your college study group, s/he is wanting someone who is self sufficient already - THEN assembling a team of self sufficient people. The team has to depend on everyone in it, don't be the weak link.

RE: Cheating?
By kyp275 on 3/23/2008 11:06:31 PM , Rating: 1
I'm sorry, but that just sounds retarded. Or maybe you just have no clue how some of these classes are taught, or rather, not-taught. Some classes these days involves almost zero lecture or guidance, where the professor just tosses you the textbook and hand out homeworks and leave you to it to figure it all out.

The point of education is to LEARN, not LEARN BY YOURSELF ONLY. It's not a race to see who can get it right by themselves first. The goal is that at the end of the day you will have acquired the knowledge that you're supposed to from the course. By your logic we should just disband all educational institutions and stuff everyone with books and lock them up in isolation 'til they "get it right".

Learning how to work with others is just as important, if not more so, than the knowledge you're trying to learn. You're implying that everyone who's not a bookworm nerd is cheating through life :rolleyes: BTW, grades means jack**** out in the real life, it's how you actually perform on your job.

Being self-sufficient doesn't mean you have to know everything and be capable of doing everything on your own, it means that you know your own strength and weakness and know how to seek aid when necessary in order to complete your objective. Your employer doesn't care how you studied in school, they care about how you will perform in your job.

oh btw,
it's you versus the next guy, if you can't get it right when the next guy can, guess what? You should FAIL. That's the whole point, you aren't as good and shouldn't receive a degree that implies you are.

that's called a "Test", genius

RE: Cheating?
By Durrr on 3/24/2008 7:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, you must have no friends. Do you talk to yourself because talking with others in a group is a bad thing?

I was more than competent enough to make it through my nuclear engineering courses, however, there are always concepts, theories or applications that people don't get. I found myself explaining course material in other terms to other students quite regularly. That does not mean that they're inept, it means they needed a little help.

RE: Cheating?
By aeroxander on 3/24/2008 9:17:44 AM , Rating: 2
That is the most inept thing that I've ever heard. I did my B.Eng in Aero at Ryerson and have to say that help provided to me in the first years at Ryerson from my fellow students went a great deal to helping me to achieve my degree. Once I got to 3rd and 4th year I was doing just fine and contributing to the learning process with my fellow students. I went on to complete my Masters at Ryerson.

Not everyone gets it the first time, that does not mean that they're not capable.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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